Professor Leaves Billion Dollar Gift To Pay For Tuition Of Her Students

[Screen shot, Einstein College of Medicine Faculty Page]

With an unwavering passion for making a positive impact, Ruth Gottesman embarked on a journey in medicine in 1968, becoming an integral part of the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Einstein College of Medicine. In the pursuit of her altruistic vision, she initiated the Adult Literacy Program and spearheaded the establishment of the Emily Fisher Landau Center for the Treatment of Learning Disabilities.

Throughout the years, Ruth witnessed the financial struggles of aspiring doctors from working-class backgrounds, determined to pursue their dreams despite the burden of tuition costs. Fueled by her desire to bring about change, she took a decisive stand against this issue.

Recently, Ruth’s commitment to making a difference reached new heights, and it will impact her students for “perpetuity.” Unlike most professors, Ruth had an extra billion dollars lying around, and she decided that those studying medicine at Albert Einstein should never pay tuition again. 

The New York Times described the incredible gift that will see new doctors be able to focus on medicine rather than their debt.

The donor, Ruth Gottesman, is a former professor at Einstein, where she studied learning disabilities, developed a screening test and ran literacy programs. It is one of the largest charitable donations to an educational institution in the United States and most likely the largest to a medical school.

The fortune came from her late husband, David Gottesman, known as Sandy, who was a protégé of Warren Buffett and had made an early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate Mr. Buffett built.

The donation is notable not only for its staggering size, but also because it is going to a medical institution in the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough. The Bronx has a high rate of premature deaths and ranks as the unhealthiest county in New York. Over the past generation, a number of billionaires have given hundreds of millions of dollars to better-known medical schools and hospitals in Manhattan, the city’s wealthiest borough.

Dr. Gottesman said her donation would enable new doctors to begin their careers without medical school debt, which often exceeds $200,000. She also hoped it would broaden the student body to include people who could not otherwise afford to go to medical school.

The announcement and reaction of the students might bring tears to your eyes.

“We have terrific medical students, but this will open it up for many other students whose economic status is such that they wouldn’t even think about going to medical school,” she told The Times.

“This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it,” the school told NPR. “Additionally, it will free up and lift our students, enabling them to pursue projects and ideas that might otherwise be prohibitive.”

“Each year, well over 100 students enter Albert Einstein College of Medicine in their quest for degrees in medicine and science,” Gottesman said. “They leave as superbly trained scientists and compassionate and knowledgeable physicians, with the expertise to find new ways to prevent diseases and provide the finest health care to communities here in the Bronx and all over the world.”

Ruth remembered to thank her husband in the announcement. “I am very thankful to my late husband, Sandy, for leaving these funds in my care, and l feel blessed to be given the great privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause.”

Thanks to her remarkable philanthropy and his success, their legacy will resonate as a beacon of hope for generations to come.

Somewhere, we bet Sandy is smiling at the incredible woman he married 75 years ago.

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